Wednesday, April 22, 2015

All I Really Need to Know...



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This past Sunday, as well as it being the Third Sunday of Easter, we celebrated Earth Day Sunday. At St. Timothy's, one of our lay people with a passion for stewardship of the earth, brought the message for the day. At St. Mark's, I preached. Below is what I shared with God's people at St. Mark's. The gospel was Luke 24:36b-48.

Have any of you ever read the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum? Granted, the title is a bit of an exaggeration, however it goes right to the core ways of how to behave with others in our world.
1. Share with others if you can.
2. Refrain from hitting.
3. Clean up after yourself.
4. Apologize when you hurt someone and so on.
If you do these things you'll be well on your way to becoming a good citizen.

What would you say if I told you that everything we need to know about Jesus Christ is found in this passage of Luke's gospel? In these verses, we find a concise summary of Jesus' life and ministry. Key doctrinal truths about Jesus, with which the early church struggled are also included.
Listen to this list:
Jesus brings peace to the anxious.
Jesus' presence among us can be unsettling.
God really resurrected Jesus from the dead.
The resurrected Christ continues to bear the marks of the nails and the spear in his suffering for us.
We cannot understand the scriptures apart from Jesus.
Jesus commissions us to bear witness to his life, ministry and resurrection.
The good news of Jesus Christ is good news for everybody.

Jesus brings peace to the anxious. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, who were locked in a room, almost panic-stricken that they were next on the Romans' hit list. Jesus' first words to those gathered were, "Peace be with you."Jesus was telling his disciples that no matter what their circumstance in life, he is the source of all strength that will give them inner peace and calm to deal with their fear.

Jesus' presence among us can be unsettling.The disciples were frightened when they saw Jesus after his crucifixion. They thought they were seeing a ghost. After all, aren't dead persons supposed to stay dead?

God really resurrected Jesus from the dead. He was not a ghost or a disembodied spirit. He had a body and could eat with his disciples.

The resurrected Christ continues to bear the marks of the nails and the spear in his suffering for us.There is no crown without the cross. We do not worship a Lord who has never suffered. Claiming one can have a life without pain is what Luther would call a theology of glory, not the theology of the cross. God does not promise us an easy, rose garden of a life, but he promises to always be with us. Jesus warned his disciples that if he was to suffer and die, wasn't the world going to treat them the same way?

We cannot understand the scriptures apart from Jesus. Just as Jesus opened the eyes of his disciples, he gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to open our minds to the treasures of the scriptures. As Martin Luther explains:

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church. (Small Catechism)

Jesus commissions us to bear witness to his life, ministry and resurrection.
We are called to proclaim "repentance and forgiveness of sins" and to be witnesses to the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. We just have to tell the story of Jesus which leads to a change of mind and of heart.
We don't have to do anything else. It is not our job to convert everyone we meet. It is our job to plant the seed. God will do the rest.

The good news of Jesus Christ is good news for everybody. This is the great commission. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus' parting words to the disciples were to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). There are no exceptions to this mandate. We are to preach to rich and poor, male and female, slave or free, gay or straight and to white, black, red and yellow or any other color that may be thrown in.

In today's gospel, we find the good news laid out in miniature.How do we respond to this news? Jesus is calling us to be his witnesses in the 21st century. We have a choice--to sit quietly and say nothing or when the opportunity arises, to share our story of how Jesus has impacted our lives.
God works through us. We just need to let God work.
Amen.

Resources:
Fred Craddock, Luke, Interpretation
John Fairless and Delmer Chilton, The Lectionary Lab Commentary
Jacob Myers, workingpreacher.org

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